Stephen Leask

Group Leisure & Travel spoke to Stephen Leask about his new role as Dewey Finn in School of Rock the Musical.

1.) What does it feel like to be cast as the lead?

I still can’t quite believe it! I’ve never been the lead in a West End Musical before and being given the opportunity and responsibility is a real honour.

2.) Dewey is such a fascinating character, tell us about the role, and how you intend on playing him.

Dewey is driven by the belief that his destiny is to become a Rock Star! He has his future all planned out which he describes in the song “When I Climb To The Top of Mount Rock”. He is passionate and driven and the best characters to play always have something they want but don’t yet have. His “never say die” attitude and unwavering self-belief is the heart of the character.

3.) Where do you get the energy from to play Dewey?

I’m not quite sure! I’ve always been a very energetic performer but Dewey Finn is on another level! As soon as the lights go up, the first song starts and the audience start cheering you get an injection of energy. The audience can create a real buzz and you feed off that.

4.) The children you work with are so talented, what’s it like to act and sing alongside them?

The kids are incredible. The first time I ever rehearsed with them I was blown away by how confident and professional they all were. They are all between 9-12, and the way they go out in front of hundreds of people each night and give it their all is utterly inspiring. People sometimes think that I am “in charge” of them or that it’s a bit like being a babysitter but they are my colleagues, we work together and I have a huge amount of respect for them.  I couldn’t do the show without them.

5.) The 2003 film was a hit, how do you recreate the same energy and comedy for the stage?

The film has such a great story and Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Julian Fellowes and Glenn Slater have stayed true to that story in creating the music, book and lyrics. Having the audience right there gives you an instant reaction, so you know that they are enjoying what you are doing.

6.) Were you a fan of the film before auditioning for the role?

The film came out when I was 18, my final year at school, and my friends and I absolutely loved it. We played “Teachers Pet” in band practices on weekends and all wanted to be Jack Black!

7.) Do you have a favourite part of the show? Any favourite songs or lines?

My favourite part of the show is the moment the stage revolves, the lights change, Battle of the Bands begins and we start playing “Teachers Pet”. The audience see the kids playing this incredible song and the whole theatre turns into a concert. It makes you feel like a ROCKSTAR! 

I love the lines “You guys have a feeling for music, real music…” and “Music speaks to you, that’s what matters.” That is a huge part of the show for me and I think it speaks and, hopefully, inspires the children who come and watch the show to pick up instruments and take an interest in music.

8.) Which of the children’s characters do you think you would have liked to have played when you were younger?

I would love to have played Freddie. He’s a confident kid, who’s not afraid to stand up for himself, I also played drums from the age of 10 and would love to have played in a band like “The School of Rock!”

9.) You’ve been in many productions, especially stage. Is this one of your favourite roles you’ve had to play?

Dewey Finn is a dream role and isn’t like anything I’ve done before and I have so much fun playing the character. I’ve been given real creative licence to add things and make the part my own. I have never been the lead in a West End musical before and, from a personal point of view, the role has really challenged me. I enjoy every single show and am very honoured to have been given the responsibility of such a well loved character.

10.) What can audiences who know nothing about the show expect when coming to see it? 

A funny, energetic, inspiring show, with awesome songs and crazy-talented kids! Oh, and they can expect to be ROCKED! That’s a Dewey Finn guarantee!

11.) Can you sum the show up in three words?